Halloween Fun, Not Fearful
By Carleton Kendrick Ed.M., LCSW
can be an exciting, entertaining time for your children. But Halloween
events may cause them to be unduly scared, even traumatized. By
understanding what your youngsters can cope with, you'll be able
to prevent them from being scared out of a good time.
are unable to clearly distinguish between reality and fantasy. Even
some children in the early elementary grades are still wrestling
with this understanding. You may do your best to explain that ghouls
and goblins are "pretend," but the costumed monsters who
appear at your door can seem very real.
masks, costumes, and sounds can terrify children at this age, no
matter how quickly the scary masks are removed to reveal friendly,
familiar faces. Don't challenge your young kids to "stop being
afraid" or make them feel ashamed about their fears. Halloween
should not be used as a test or a challenge of their emotional maturity.
that your goal is to provide them with fun, not fear. There are
many ways for your young children to enjoy Halloween. Just put yourself
in their "emotional shoes" and then make plans for a great
About a week before Halloween, get a sense of your kids' comfort
and apprehension levels regarding the holiday. Ask them how they
want to celebrate Halloween this year. Listen to their words, but
also notice their body language -- do they seem anxious?
in again shortly before Halloween because a child's apprehensions
may intensify as the big night draws near. Let your kids decide
how involved they want to be at Halloween.
are some ideas for a happier Halloween:
Ask your children to hand out treats with you at the door.
or attend a non-frightening Halloween costume party with your children's
a pumpkin together.
the Snoopy Halloween cartoon special while feasting on special Halloween
your kids trick-or-treating at houses where you know they will be
welcomed and not scared by the adults who open the door.
not expose young children to any inappropriate horror movies and
not take them to a haunted house or a horror theme park. It is wholly
inappropriate and unhealthy for young kids.
Carleton Kendrick Ed.M., LCSW is a family therapist, noted national
speaker, and author of Take Out Your Nose Ring, Honey, We're
Going to Grandma's